Michigan State University has selected Samuel L. Stanley Jr., who now leads Stony Brook University in New York, as its next president.
The Detroit Free Press reports that Stanley is first permanent president at MSU since Lou Anna Simon resigned in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexaul abuse scandal. Simon faces criminal charges of lying to police in connection with the investigation of Nassar.
Since Simon's departure in January 2018, two other interim presidents have served, including former Michigan Gov. John Engler, who was forced from office.
“Dr. Stanley is an empowering, compassionate and thoughtful leader, who will work tirelessly alongside our students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees and broader Spartan community to meet the challenges we face together and build our future,” says Dianne Byrum, chairwoman, MSU Board of Trustees.
An 18-member committee appointed by the trustees solicited input through 22 campus-wide input sessions and an online submission form where community members shared their ideas on the characteristics they desire for Michigan State’s next president.
“I know the Spartan community has been profoundly troubled by the events of the past years that have shaken confidence in the institution," Stanley says. "We will meet these challenges together, and we will build on the important work that has already been done to create a campus culture of diversity, inclusion, equity, accountability and safety that supports all of our endeavors.”
Stanley has been the president of Stony Brook since 2009 and has nearly 15 years of higher education leadership experience. After receiving a medical degree from Harvard Medical School, he completed his resident-physician training at Massachusetts General Hospital. He then went to Washington University in St. Louis for a fellowship in infectious diseases, eventually becoming a professor in the Departments of Medicine and Molecular Microbiology. He was appointed Vice Chancellor for Research at Washington University in 2006, serving in that position until he was appointed president at Stony Brook.
In addition to his extensive background in science and research, Stanley has been an international advocate for gender equity and ending sexual violence in his role as one of two U.S. university Impact Champions for the HeForShe UN Global Solidarity Movement for Gender Equality.
The administrative turmoil at Michigan State erupted after an investigation found that Nassar, a staff doctor at MSU and doctor to the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team, had sexually assaulted hundreds of young women. He is now serving a lengthy prison term.
Evidence showed that MSU officials had known about his abuse and cleared him of abuse allegations years before he was arrested.
Nassar's boss, William Strampel, is facing criminal charges of sexually assaulting students himself and not providing proper oversight to Nassar. MSU also knew about Strampel's issues with female students for more than a decade, but did nothing.
Simon resigned under intense campus and public pressure for what many regarded as insensitive comments and actions toward Nassar survivors. She has since been charged with lying to police about what she knew about Nassar.
MSU's board then brought in Engler as interim president, and he forged a $500 million settlement with more than 300 survivors of Nassar's abuse. Another 160-plus Nassar survivors have sued MSU in a second wave of lawsuits.
But Engler drew criticism for, among other things, accusing a Nassar survivor of taking kickbacks from attorneys, hiring his cronies to lucrative spots in his administration and repeated offensive comments toward sexual assault survivors. He was forced out, and Satish Udpa, executive vice president for administration, was named acting president.